About the ILO in Serbia

Incomplete economic transition impacting labour markets

Serbia has been undergoing an unfinished transition from a centrally planned to a market economy for nearly 30 years interrupted and also partially reversed by the Balkan Wars in the 1990ies. Being the largest country of the Western Balkans, it has a strategic importance for EU accession negotiations with the candidate countries from this region. The incomplete transition has its effects on labour markets. While unemployment is going down, Serbia continues to struggle with relatively low labour force participation, high inactivity, a large portion of youth neither in employment nor in education, and a high number of workers in state owned enterprises supported with high subsidies. Informality continues to be high, the quality of jobs requires substantive improvement and there is a need for further reform of the occupational safety system. The long-standing labour legislation reform is relevant both for EU accession and for advancement of social dialogue.

To overcome these challenges the ILO is offering assistance in:

1.    Promoting inclusive labour market solutions for the vulnerable job-seekers,
2.    Enhancement of social dialogue and collective bargaining through capacity building of the social partners and the Economic and Social Council, and
3.    Improvement of occupational safety in the critical sectors.

The ILO in Serbia has been active since February 2008 with a focus on the major nation-wide challenges identified with its constituents and emphasized in its Decent Work Country Programme. It also works on some of the less visible but equally relevant problems such as the fight against the worst forms of child labour. It had a pronounced role in development of forward-looking national policies such as Green Jobs, tackling the multi-faceted issues of social inclusion and environment protection.